How to Make a CPU Fan Quieter

Written by jason artman
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How to Make a CPU Fan Quieter
CPU fans have become more elaborate over the years. (cpu cooler image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

Many people have become so desensitised to computer noise that they fail to realise the abuse committed against their ears daily. An old, dusty high-speed CPU fan emits whining noises that impede your ability to concentrate and force you to turn your background music up to high levels to drown it out. Additionally, a loud computer becomes a serious technical issue in environments where silence is crucial, such as audio recording. Take steps to silence your CPU fan if you have reached your limit with computer noise.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Install software to manually control your CPU fan speed. Many current computer motherboards automatically change the speed of the CPU fan in response to processor temperature changes. A CPU fan speed control program can override the motherboard and lower the fan speed.

  2. 2

    Install a voltage limiter to reduce the amount of power going to the CPU fan from the power supply. A voltage limiter can be as simple as a single resistor that lowers the speed of the fan or a complicated system that places speed control knobs on the front of your computer, giving you full manual control. A fan speed control system consumes no system resources, unlike software-based solutions. However, some software-based solutions are free, and physical fan speed controllers are not.

  3. 3

    Clean your CPU fan and heat sink. While a CPU fan may be loud simply because of the high speed it spins at, it could also be loud because of the turbulence generated by years of caked-on dust. Additionally, dust between the metal fins of the heat sink can prevent the fan from drawing heat away efficiently.

  4. 4

    Install sound insulating foam. Sound insulating foam allows less noise to escape from your computer chassis, reducing the perceived noise level of the CPU fan. Sound insulating foam also has the additional benefit of reducing the noise produced by the other components in your computer, including the hard drives and video card fan.

  5. 5

    Install a more efficient heat sink and/or fan. A larger fan can move the same amount of air--if not more--with a lower number of revolutions per minute. If you select a large enough fan, you can operate your computer in near silence while maintaining effective processor cooling. For best results, pair the fan with a high-end heat sink. Most inexpensive computer heat sinks are made of aluminium. Copper, though slightly more expensive, is a far better heat conductor. A high-end heat sink and fan can reduce both the noise and heat produced by your processor.

Tips and warnings

  • After you take steps to reduce the noise generated by your CPU fan, you may find that the noise produced by the other fans in your system become more apparent. Many of the suggestions given in this article can also reduce the noise level of intake, exhaust and video card fans.
  • Be mindful of potential temperature issues if you lower the speed of your CPU fan. Pair your CPU with an efficient heat sink, and make sure that your computer chassis has proper airflow so that cool air can enter and hot air can escape. Install temperature monitoring software to make sure that your CPU temperature does not rise to unacceptable levels.
  • Never clean your CPU fan and heat sink with the computer plugged into a power outlet. For best results, remove the heat sink, fan and CPU from the motherboard and clean them on a work surface away from the computer.
  • Purchase a fresh tube of thermal compound and apply it to the CPU and heat sink when you replace the components in your computer.

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